President Obama has lifted his arms embargo on Egypt, authorizing the deliveries of US weapons valued at over $1.3 billion, suspended after the 2013 military coup. Egyptian forces have been fighting Islamic militants in Yemen and Libya.
Among the weapons systems released are twelve F-16 aircraft, 20 “Harpoon” anti-ship missiles, and 125 upgrade kits for US-made M1A1 Abrams tanks in Egyptian service. The “executive hold” on weapons deliveries was imposed after the military overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Morsi in October 2013. Egypt is the second-largest recipient of US military aid in the world.
In a telephone call on Tuesday, Obama told Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi that the annual military aid amounting to $1.3 billion would continue, but that Washington wanted to “modernize” it by ending sales of military equipment on credit starting in the fiscal year 2018.
Future US aid would be directed towards counterterrorism equipment, border security, maritime security and operations against militants in the Sinai Peninsula, as well as maintaining weapons Egypt is already using, the White House said in a statement.
“In this way, we will ensure that US funding is being used to promote shared objectives in the region, including a secure and stable Egypt and the defeat of terrorist organizations,” Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement.